Thursday, February 22nd, 2007
By Margie Wuebker
Employees responsible to pay percentage of insurance
  MINSTER - Village employees will begin paying 10 percent of their health insurance premiums as a result of action taken by Minster village council Tuesday night.
Administrator Don Harrod said the village will retain Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage through Ohio Insurances Services despite a 10.46 percent increase effective March 1. Health insurance costs for the basic plan will rise from $197,000 to $217,000 per year.
"Our employees knew this was coming at some point," Harrod said in regard to the action, which drew unanimous approval. "The same 10 percent factor could be applied to future increases."
Employees will pay $28 per month for a single plan or $88 per month for a family plan. The village formerly picked up the entire cost of basic plan coverage. Additionally, employees can continue to purchase health insurance with lower deductibles at their own cost.
"We sought quotes from two other companies," Harrod said. "However, employees are happy with the present plan. Ohio Insurance Services does the legwork when Anthem won't pay and the service has been excellent."
Officials continue to research the possibility of adding flexible spending plans for insurance as well as 401K/IRA accounts for employees.
First reading was given to an ordinance creating the position of appointed fiscal officer for the village. Legislation has cleared the way for such appointments instead of relying on the elected clerk's position.
The change would take effect locally when the current term of John Stechschulte expires March 31, 2008. New Knoxville, Anna and Russia already have taken action on the matter.
While Stechschulte has a strong accounting background, that has not been the case in some villages where inexperienced people win by popular vote.
"You always run the risk of an inexperienced person winning," council President Rick Schwartz said. Mayor Dennis Kitzmiller agreed, pointing out "We're running a big business here compared to 20 years ago."
Councilors approved an agreement with Jackson Township Trustees involving the annexation of approximately 4 acres of land behind St. Augustine Cemetery and adjacent to the village's wastewater treatment plant. Current property owners Steven and Teresa Wacker reportedly plan to sell the parcel to an unspecified company. Trustees have approved the request and the matter now goes to the Auglaize County Commissioners.
In other action, council:
• Received an update on the traffic light project at state Routes 66 and 119. Choice One Engineering of Sidney will submit final plans to the Ohio Department of Transportation for approval in the coming days. The project is expected to begin this summer.
• Amended the village zoning map to include a 3.2-acre tract of land that has been annexed and rezoned from agricultural to industrial use. The tract is part of 11-plus acres the village purchased from Minster Machine Company for industrial park purposes. The remainder of the property already lays in the village.
• Learned automatic meter reading equipment has arrived and training will be scheduled before installation commences.
• Agreed to purchase a 2007 truck chassis and digger derrick unit for the electrical department at a cost of $156,248. The new vehicle will replace a smaller 1996 model having 3,500 hours of service. Sale of the older vehicle, which originally cost $97,000, is expected to bring in $20,000 to $25,000.
• Created a full-time administrative assistant's post in the police department. The position carries an hourly pay rate of $9.52 to $12.07.
• Thanked Rollie Bernhold for 21 years of service on the zoning board of appeals.
• Commended village crews on the handling of blowing and drifting snow Feb. 13 and 14. Precipitation measured around 15 inches.
• Set the next meeting for 6 p.m. Feb. 27 and canceled the previously scheduled March 6 session.
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